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Climate Coalition report - AHDB statement

5 February 2019

In response to the Climate Coalition’s Recipe for Disaster report AHDB Potatoes’ Strategy Director Dr Rob Clayton, said:

“On the one hand potatoes and some other veg could provide a few solutions with regard to climate change, they have a great ‘water efficiency budget’ compared to other carbs. They respond positivity to elevated CO2, and warmer weather would mean an extended season (spring and autumn), which would in theory help get more out of each piece of farm equipment.

“On the other hand, growing our traditional varieties, such as Maris Piper, in a warmer climate would present a challenge as they shut down around 30C. Potatoes use most of their water at times of peak demand, they are threatened by new pests and diseases, which would ordinarily get wiped out in ‘more traditional’ winters and they need good soil conditions for both planting and harvesting.

“Last year was a good case in point, where the crop was heavily impacted by the prolonged hot and dry weather, which stalled tuber growth in what was one of the hottest and driest combined June and July periods on record.

“As well as broader climate change issues there are a range of measures where the sector can protect itself and AHDB is helping by:

  • Providing research and farmer learning to help manage soils more effectively
  • Optimising the use and timings of irrigation water
  • Working with government to stay on top of new and potential pest and disease threats
  • Participating in national activity to understand and reduce waste within the supply chain adjusting specification where appropriate

“Whilst we can’t rule out a repeat of 2012 or 2018, we know that our well-developed supply chains can provide consumers with a continued supply as they have done this year. Shelves will not be empty, but trading conditions would cause concern for growers and supply chains alike. What consumers will notice is a wider range of shapes and sizes in the bag they bring home to cook with – these shapes and sizes are a normal part of any harvest, they’ll still taste great and will still contribute to the nation’s vitamin C and fibre intake.”

-end-

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